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Significantly more independent stores opening compared to chains

Posted on 11 Oct 2017

Data released today by The Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Association (bira) shows that traditional independent shops opened significantly more shops than in the same period last year, whilst the national chains continued to see a fall.

Independent shops saw an increase of +762 shops (up 0.27%) in the first half of 2017. This is a significant increase from the net increase of +4 shops in the same period of 2016.

Chain stores have remained in decline with a net loss of -659 shops (-0.33%) in the first half of 2017, compared to -2,001 shops (-1.02%) in the same 2016 period.

Service retail continues to be one of the stronger sectors, with numbers increasing by the greatest number of units, up 859 units from the first half of 2016.

Key growth sectors have been Barbers, Cafes, Tobacconists/e-cigarette shops, and Hair & Beauty salons.

In terms of location, the North West showed the greatest increase of independents at +230 units (+0.71%) vs 2016.

The East and South West showed the greatest decline of independents at -19 units (-0.09%) and -29 units (-0.11%) respectively.

Scotland has continued to see a change in fortune, reversing a net decrease in the first half of 2016, to an increase of +114 units in 2017.

Independents account for 65% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain, the same as in the first half of 2016.
Matthew Hopkinson, Director at Local Data Company commented: "The first half of 2017 has seen remarkable growth in the opening of independent shops and food & beverage outlets across Great Britain with a net increase of 762 new trading stores. This is significant in what is a challenging environment and where many chain retailers are closing stores.

Of note is the 10% reduction in overall activity (openings and closures) as this reflects increasing uncertainty in the market or where opportunities to invest are reducing. As the numbers show, independents are an increasingly important stakeholder in every town centre up and down the country and therefore an understanding of how they are performing is key. 65% of all the retail and leisure units across Great Britain are independents and this number has increased in recent years. The internet, customisation and providing a personal service is something that will fuel the openings of independents on our high streets.

History, however, tells us that independents also have the propensity to change rapidly from growth to decline due to the marginal nature of some businesses, shorter lease lengths and wider impacts of changes to the costs funding. For now, it is a good news story and one that we should celebrate and support."